Frequently Asked Questions

What breeds do you sell? 

 I get ALOT of emails about breeds Ive tried once but no longer do. To make it more clear, I CURRENTLY breed myself: 

  • Buff Barred Cochins
  • Buff laced/Gold Laced Brahmas
  • Mille fluer/Calico Cochin bantams
  • Seramas
  • Paint silkies

ALL OTHER BREEDS I either buy in from a breeder OR hatchery and raise. I don't have the time to breed more then I have listed above. 

I DO NOT BREED POLISH, OLANDKS DWARFS, AMERAUCANAS, SWEDISH FLOWER HENS, MARANS OR CREAM LEGBARS 

 

What is your Favorite breed of chickens that you raise?

My Top 5 

1.Brahmas

2. Buff Orpington

3. Marans

4. Seramas 

5. Cochins

Why are these your favorite?

I have raised ALOT of chickens and these were the ones that stuck out to me with there personalities and they were more friendly then others.

What are your least favorite?

 There's a couple varieties that seemed more shy and not as sociable, Easter Eggers and Leghorns or anything with a Skinny build.

I have chicks, what should I be feeding and for how long?

Day old chicks- 8 weeks you feed chick starter medicated to prevent coccidiosis unless you choose unmedicated or organic.
Chicks 8 weeks - 16 weeks (4 months) you feed chick grower NOT layer pellets. Layer pellets in young birds can cause kidney damage. 
By 16 weeks or until your first egg, you feed layer pellets. 

If you already have layers and are introducing 8-15 week olds, stop feeding layer pellets and feed everyone chick grower and put out oyster shells in a place that younger ones won't go near or keep it up higher.


What Is Coccidiosis?


Now, what is cocci? It's tiny organisms that are everywhere in the soil and carried by wild birds. They are carried by wind on dust and on your shoes and clothes and hands. They get on every surface of chicken equipment and can live like that for some time. Once they are eaten, they burrow into the cells that line the intestines. There, they reproduce and then burst out of the cell and destroy it in the process. They are pooped out and are ready to infect another bird. While just a handful is fine and necessary for your chick to build the immunity, more than just a few can overwhelm a chicks digestive tract and kill it. Since they destroy the cells responsible for absorbing nutrients from the food, the chicks will starve. They lose appetite and get weak and then waste away. A bad infection will kill in just a few days. By the time you realize it, all the chicks have it and even the ones that act fine are probably on the way downhill. Once the birds have developed an immunity, then it's no longer a big deal until they get exposed to NEW cocci. There are many varieties of cocci and so while MY birds have developed immunity to the cocci found at my home, they have NOT developed immunity to the ones at YOUR home. They are VERY local and the ones at your house will not match the same ones at my house. This is why birds can easily get sick when moved and why practicing biosecurity is so important. Adult birds in good health usually handle a transfer to a new environment with new cocci pretty well, but weak or sick birds may not survive it. What to do? Now that it's in your chicks, the only option is to treat it as fast as possible and try to save the ones you can. You will lose chicks. Nothing you can do about that. You probably exposed them accidentally after being out around the older birds. It happens, even to the best. Cocci are everywhere and are very prolific. Bleach or hydrogen peroxide in a spray bottle is how I deal with it. All we can really do is hope to keep the population down to a level that will not overload the chicks. Now, for chicks, the best bet is to change their bedding at least once a day. More is better, especially with the outbreak. DO NOT bring anymore chicks into the situation until it is completely resolved. Then, move everything out of where you keep chicks and bleach it all before bringing in more chicks. ALWAYS wash hands before working around your chicks. Wash everything that will come in contact with your chicks with bleach. Keep that bedding clean! Wet bedding encourages the cocci to reproduce. For now, add vitamins and electrolites to your chicks water and get something to treat cocci as fast as possible. Order it first and then try to find some local, even if you have to borrow from someone. Good news is that once they get on the meds, they tend to bounce back rather quickly. There will be a few that you lose anyhow, but the meds are the best we can do. Good luck! Google and read more as there is loads of info on cocci.

 How do I know if my chickens have lice??

Lice is easy to kill but it is a very common parasite for any type of poultry. You can get it from using Feed Hay, contact with wild birds, New chickens, unclean coops and at Poultry shows. Your chickens will show signs as the lice infest and become uncontrollable and spread bird to bird. There skin will turn pink/blood red on there stomach and there vents. They will be agitated when its time to go to bed. They can start to loose feathers and look as if they are molting, but its usually only on there heads, butts and belly's. They will also lay less since they are stressed from the parasites.  The worst time to get lice is in the fall/ winter when chickens can't take dust baths. Dust baths naturally keep away parasites. Make sure you check your flock often even if you don't have lice.

How Do I get rid of Lice?

Most people use DE or Diatomacious Earth in there coops to keep the bug count low, It does takes a few days but it will put slices into the bug, dehydrate it and kill it. Usually you have to use something stronger, you can use either a Seven dust or Poultry Dust. Sevin Dust is what the old timers use, it is stronger and I do believe it works faster but it isn't good to breathe in and it stings if it goes into your eyes. Poultry Dust is a safer method and is recommended more then Sevin. For both Dusts you should wear gloves and a mask. Make sure you clean your entire coop and the nesting boxes. Put down the dust Everywhere, even in the boxes, followed by shavings. Avoid using straw or salt marsh hay in the next 10 days. ( Never use HAY in your nest boxes, this breeds parasites!!). You also need to dust your chickens, the best time would be at night or just before they go in to bed. Hold them by there feet and let them relax then shake the dust into there wings, into the vent, there stomach, the back and avoid there head. Once there done being dusted, put them in the coop and keep it shut for 24 hrs to kill all the lice. Repeat the process in 10 days to make sure you get any hatched eggs.

MITES!! 

 Mites are similar to Lice but harder to find and harder to kill. I took these photos from my own chickens that suffered from Northern fowl mites. These type of mites are the most common and are about the size of a tip of a pencil. They are also found clustered around the vent either on the skin or on the feather like photos shown below. For Treatment, you can feed Nutrenas Feather Fixer which has a mite fighter technology. Replace your regular layer pellet feed with feather fixer and you should notice results within a month. When the chickens poop, it makes it inhospitable to mites. I used it for 9 months without a problem and after 2 weeks of being off of it, I got mites again. When I first find mites, I cut out any feathers that have mites or mite eggs on them. I then pour mineral oil over the vent area til its saturated and that smothers the mites. For my main form of treatment, I personally use Frontline. For those that are using  eggs as a main food source, frontline  would be used at your own discretion. It is not made for chickens but is commonly used by chicken breeders. I put a drop of either frontline spray or Frontline for dogs above the vent, the back of the head, and a drop under each wing. Make sure you put completely clean out the coop and any fly feathers hanging around and pour oil into any cracks on the roosts or floor. Mites can live in your coop as well as on your chickens.  You can also use Diatomacious earth, which is organic , as a preventative.

 IF YOU HAVE MITES, STOP USING ANY OTHER BEDDING BESIDES SHAVINGS.

 

 What is Molting?

 Every chicken at one point will Molt, loosing its feathers and growing in new ones, Some are more obvious then others. Chickens usually molt between 12 -16 months of age, but rarely they will molt early if the seasons are off. Molting will usually last between 2-3 months but in some cases has lasted up to 6 months. A good laying chicken will molt quickly, but may look more ragged compared to a chicken that takes 3-6 months to molt and is more of a show bird and a poor layer. When a chicken starts to molt, the egg production usually stops and they take on a ratty appearance. There mood usually changes and they might be a little more skittish or just act plain weird then there normal selves. They start loosing feathers around the neck and it works its way down the body. Once they grow in there new feathers, they look like a brand new chicken. They should start laying again within a month of getting there new feathers. 

Why are my chickens not giving me as many eggs?

I get this question the most, It is usually because the season is changing and we are going into winter. When we hit October, it becomes colder and the days begin to get shorter. Chickens need 12-14 hours of light to be laying constantly 24/7. When they are only getting 7-10 hours it isn't enough for them to be laying faithfully like in the spring or summer. To correct the problem, if it is one, is to put a cheap little light bulb in (40 watts, higher can cause cannibalism). Don't use a 250 watt bulb, that is for the babies and gives off heat as well as light. You want your chickens to be strong going into winter not desensitized. If you put in a 250 watt light be prepared to keep your chickens in the coop because they cant stand the temperature change from 60 to 20. They can get sick or even worse, pass away. If you can, have your light bulb on a timer from 6AM to 8PM. This will make sure they get enough light each day. Most people do not put in any sort of light and let the chickens have there natural vacation. Chickens only have so many eggs in there body and if you make them lay for you all winter, they will stop laying that much sooner. If this isn't the time of year for lack of eggs, it could be front a parasite infestation, a scare from a predator, incorrect feeding practices, or unhappy living conditions.

What does it mean if a chicken goes broody??

Its springtime again, and all your chickens are happy to go outside and free range. But one has decided to stay in the nest box. She isn't looking for tasty goodies and hisses every time you approach. You check to see if shes hurt and she screams a horrible cackle at you and attempts to bite you. You have no idea whats wrong and no matter what you do she ALWAYS goes back to the nest box. When she poops, sometimes they are as big as a golf ball and smell HORRIBLE. Is she dying??? NO shes just broody! Brooding is when a hen decides its her time to be a mother. She will lay a clutch of eggs ranging from 6-15. You may not notice at first if you collect them each day. She will stay put in the nest box if there's eggs under her until they hatch. She will not come out but once a day to every other day to eat and drink. If you take the eggs from underneath her, she will move to a box sometimes to steal someone else's eggs. If you have a rooster, then a good mother will stay put til they hatch. Just make sure she gets food and water, broodies can starve themselves. But most of you who will read this do not have a rooster and don't want to have to deal with a broody hen. The best way to break her is as soon as she starts to go broody, Kick her out of the nest box and make it impossible to get back to the nest area. She will act upset and moody, not like her usual self. This is normal until she breaks being broody. If shes been broody for awhile then separate her and put her in a wire rabbit cage or something similar. Hens do not like to brood on wire because of the feeling of wind underneath them. DO NOT give her golf balls or something to sit on, its not cute and is more tortuous for her and a tease.

I own a rooster, but how can I tell if my egg is fertilized?

If you have a rooster, most likely you are eating fertilized eggs.

Can you taste a difference? NO.

If a hen chooses to incubate her eggs, then you would worry about eating these eggs. She will start the incubation process by going broody and sitting on her eggs (it takes 24 hours to start forming a baby).

A fertilized egg will have a bulls eye, This is one of my own eggs I opened as an experiment

THAT CENTER DOT MEANS ITS FERTILE 

A non fertile egg will have an irregular faint white spot 

 

 

What can I do about my Chickens Pecking Each Other?

   Chickens have a horrible habit of picking on one another. Some pick feathers here and there and some pick enough to kill another bird. Picking is usually because of of lack of space, boredom, lack of protein or just plain evilness. A few tricks people can try is pine tar, chicken jackets which you can find at Agway in Danvers or Blue Kote. With the Pine tar, you would use gloves and put it onto the area the chicken is being picked. If you chicken is bleeding, DON'T put on Pine Tar, wait until the bleeding has stopped or you have applied the blood stop powder. The chickens don't like the taste and its very thick and strong smelling. Chicken Jackets help protect the chickens back from pecking and from roosters. There easy to put on and they look fun!  Blue kote is applied to the vent or tail end. Its a blue spray that is suppose to keep the chickens from pecking, If they see blood they will keep going. Another method are Peepers! They are great for introducing new chickens, picking, bullying, and to keep roosters from fighting. Its an old trick that people are bringing back from 50 years ago. Peepers are plastic chicken goggles attached to the chickens nose. They allow the chicken to see down for there food and water but not directly in front of them. They are very easy to put on and have a great success rate. You would soak the peepers in Boiling water for about a minute to get them flexible and with one person holding the bird and the birds head, the other will simple snap the peepers on the birds nose.The chicken will attempt to scratch off the peepers but about 5-10 minutes then completely forgets about them and continues scratching and going about doing what chickens do best. The peepers shouldn't hurt the bird, sometimes they bleed when you first put them on when your not sure what to do, so don't panic!

 Why should I get my birds Blood tested? 

Blood testing is a great way to keep your hobby healthy. Would you rather buy at a swap and take your chances or buy from a source that believes in the health of your birds? I am NPIP which means my parent birds are clean from Pullorum. You don't have to be a breeder to get tested. You must have your birds blood tested to be able to show. Your birds MUST BE OVER 4 months. They will put a metal leg band indicating the birds been tested.

 

Http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/agr/animal-health/poultry 

 Want to Get tested? 

Contact

MEGAN MEGRATH

POULTRY INSPECTOR

617-626-1798

 

 

Leg Band Sizes 

PLEASE ONLY USE BANDETTES AND IF YOU HAVE ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO,

 SPIRAL LEGBANDS!!

NOT ZIP TIES!


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  • "Just put a dozen of Ashleys Bantam eggs into a borrowed incubator. We usually use a broody hen, but no one seemed to be "in the mood". Looking forward to twelve little peeping v..."
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